12/31/08

London Day 3...



London Day 3

It's rainy when we wake up which of course is no surprise. Like all places where it rains a lot (Vancouver) everyone insists that it doesn't rain all the time. I take it that one's definition all the time changes when the rain is near constant. All the time to me means everyday. All the time to those in England means all day long! We take the bus with our Oyster Cards (passes, we pay every time now) and head out to my cousin Anya's work place. It is the amazing building in the photo above made using innovative environmentally friendly and ecologically sound principles. There are tree trunks that are used as pillars, branches woven together to make a fence, a rain barrel, solar heating and recycled floors. The walls of the building are my favorite, a series of concrete bags stacked together unopened, that over time with the moisture have hardened and cracked their wrapping to become large exposed hardened bricks. Anya is an architect and she works for Sarah Wiggelsworth who is known for just this kind of progressive design and planning. She also works in the cold, as the boiler has broken in the building and her boss who is away won't be around to fix it for a week. But not to worry, as it's not really cold everyone assures her, just as it's not really raining all the time, and that racking cough that everyone has is not really tuberculosis, just a "lurgy" cough.

We leave Anya with sweaters and head for more museums. We see the National museum and bask in the glory of the impressionists and after fortifying with tea and cake head next door to the Portrait gallery and take in a beautiful exhibit of Annie Liebowitz's photographs. There are the usual portraits of famous people, but there are also lovely shots of family both on the way into this world and more hauntingly on the way out. The pictures are honest and revealing, the subjects and the artist herself brave in the way that they have allowed themselves to be exposed. It is a day full of art and I am looking forward to sharing it over a pint with my sister's in laws at pub outside London. On our way to meet Anya and Eric we learn that the boiler in their apartment has broken and that Eric has been waiting all day for it to be fixed. This explains the icy rooms and the lack of hot water and we look into staying at a hotel, but Eric is confident that if he just keeps harassing the landlord every 30 minutes they will eventually show up. Otherwise it's a weekend with no heat. I shudder to think.

We take the train to Broxborn my brother in law Stuarts family meets us and whisks us away to beautiful pub in the next town. Now I have to say that the "pubs" that I have been going to are not like the kinds you see on TV with old bars and dingy lighting and sad characters drowning their sorrows. No, these pubs which are everywhere, are beautiful stone manors with roaring fireplaces fine linens and exquisite food. It is great to see everyone, and although it has been a long time, the conversations are easy and the laughs even easier.

One of the biggest laughs of the evening came when I ordered my first drink, a pint of cider. In England, a half pint is what a proper lady orders, and I pass my host hers. As the guys all take their full pints of beer, and slowly hand me mine they smile devilishly and I can see what they are thinking..."What can I say fella's? I guess I'm just a loose woman!" Or a girl who just really likes her cider.

New Years Eve...

My New Years resolutions are...oh there are always so many and they are always the same...how do I list them?! Well, let's just say that like every year, I resolve to be better in all areas of my life. Not that I have been bad, just that I want to keep growing and keep moving forward and working hard to make all my dreams a reality and to keep learning and loving with all my heart and to find a way to make all of it a little bit easier and gentler, would be good too.

My New Years wishes for all of us are...health, happiness, love, laughter, peace, prosperity ...and for me personally, the third p...publishing. Yes, I would love to be published, and I would love to find a great agent for my book and a still in business publisher who wants to publish it! It is time to turn those great responses to my book, into great offers! And to keep writing, writing, writing. Oh and I'll take a recurring on a series too, while we are at it, or a giant commercial campaign, so that I can stay at home and write without worry.

12/30/08

Big City Dreaming...


A couple of people wrote me about my post yesterday, sharing that they too could not handle too much "relaxing", and shared their love of big cities. Maybe there is a correlation to being restless and being an urbanite. Or maybe the restlessness happens when the urban dweller has been removed from it's natural habitat...the concrete jungle...sigh.

I live in L.A. but I don't think of it as a big city, at least not one that works like a city. True, L.A. has it's pockets of goodness, but it is much more of an urban sprawl and every East Coast transplant tells me that once you give over to the lifestyle and embrace the pace, you will learn to love it. Well it's been 3 years, and there is a lot I love about L.A. but the pace is not one of them. For me in a order for a city to work there needs to be people wandering the streets, which means there needs to be a center, and sidewalks, where people walk, and bump into each other and duck into any number of fabulous coffee shops, restaurants, book stores, and galleries that are part of the urban landscape. L.A. to me is highways and cars and comfortable homes, which is why I am realizing that my apartment which I adore, my NYC style hardwood floor, big french windows, multi purpose one room to do everything apartment just might not cut it if I have to stay here much longer...which I do. In NYC this apartment would be the kind that I would never give up, and when I got squirrely I would just walk outside and be surrounded by the amazing energy that is that city. But it would also cost $650,000.00 or rent for $3500.00 and well that will just have to wait. There is still more to be done here and if I myself am to get anything done I think I will need more than just these walls to make it happen.

This is a hard admission for me, as I pride myself on living in teeny tiny spaces quite happily, but it just starting to dawn on me that maybe it isn't so crazy to want an actual office. Maybe it isn't crazy for my husband to not want to have to endure my business calls while being 3 feet away on the couch, or to want to have a room to have our many guests stay in. It has dawned on me that I am actually not in my early 20's anymore and or my early 30's for that matter and that it isn't so greedy of me to want a space that works for me and not one that I have to make work. I am starting to realize that L.A. is hard enough work as it is, and spending all my energy making 600 square feet above a neighbor who is dj'ing in his living room all day isn't the best use of it. It's hard to move forward if you have to move something out of the way first.

And of course I miss cities...real cities...big cities...that remind me that life is bigger than all of this and that there is a whole world out there.

12/29/08

Enough relaxing and London Day 2...















I have been sick and I have been "relaxing". Although now I am sick of relaxing and can not wait for the New Year to start so that I can get busy again!!

I am a bad relaxer. People tell me to "try and relax" and they genuinely mean it, because they know that I will have to try, it will take effort and in the end, I will be so exhausted and at my wits end from trying that the only cure will be to tackle some monumental project! My idea of real relaxing is doing something that I love and then basking in the exhaustion of my efforts. My idea of relaxing is going to a new city walking for 5 hours and seeing 3 different monuments and museums, and then relaxing with a glass of wine and a late meal and crawling into bed with aching feet and a big smile on my face.

Day Two London...

Jeff and I brave the bus and the scowling faces of our fellow passengers and head to Leister Square to buy tickets to a Pinter play starring the terrific Michael Gambon. We wander over to Covent Garden, roam the streets, and grab a bite to eat at a "Pret a Manger," a salad and sandwich shop that has taken over London. They are like Starbucks...everywhere, and a lot of the locals miss the tiny sandwich shops, which they have replaced. I however LOVE the "Pret a Manger", as they are clean, delicious and I get a rocket (arugula) and crawfish sandwich with avocado and a mushroom risotto for under 10 pounds. They also make salads...which is nothing to be overlooked as a green salad was hard to find in London, and when I did find one, it was the price of 2 pints of beer. Salad...beer...not an easy choice.

After we fuel up we head to The Tate Modern, which is fantastic. They have this great exhibition of famous sculptures from all over the world that have been congregated into one place, with the soundtrack of rain behind it and a creepy premise that is written at the beginning that explains that all the rain in England has made the outdoor sculptures grow and now they must be housed inside, lest they take over.

There is a lot of great modern art here, and we drag our jet lagged selves from one painting to the next and eventually stop and snooze in front of a film documenting the aforementioned exhibit. The second picture is of a little girl who sat down next to Jeff and waited for him to wake up. He was her exhibit, and people were taking pictures of the two of them while he napped!

After tea and cookies overlooking the Thames from the top floor of the gallery we made our way over the the theatre district. We hit a packed pub and have a pint and some crisps...it was an hour and a half walk after all...and after all the rain and the damp, I can see why the pub with it's reasonable prices, and warm fireplaces and cheerful faces is an English tradition. If I lived in London, it might very well be in a pub.

Dinner at Masala Zone...outstanding Indian food, and a dessert called a fool. I got the Mango fool. Fool is like a pudding, and hours later, I would feel like a fool for eating one, as it did somersaults in my stomach!

At last in the theatre...Harold Pinters "No Man's Land." For the first time, I am in a building that is warm. Too warm. I watch the play and start to feel my head nod. Oh no, I have spent 25 pounds on these tickets and that is Michael Gambon on stage! Michael Gambon talking...slowly...in a low voice...on a dimly lit stage....zzzzz.

At the end of the play, which was beautifully executed, if not thrilling, we cabbed home. No more rainy bus, no more smell of pee, no more aching feet which felt like slabs of meat...just an easy going cab with televisions in the back.

Back at the flat we collapse...again...and I dream about sleeping, while sleeping...must have been the Pinter play.

12/27/08

Travel Diaries from Over Seas...First there was London...


Jeff and I arrived in London after almost 15 hours of travel. Well longer if you include the wait time at the airport. We had to fly to Paris first and then to London and then took the "tube" into East London where my cousin Anya's husband Eric met us. Anya and Eric are our first stop on our trip. They are a fabulous couple, smart, beautiful, talented...an architect and a writer and we adore them. By the time we saw Eric, we had been up for over a day but with the time difference it was now night and we were delirious.

First off, I can not believe how crowded London is. It had been about 20 years since my last visit and somehow it is even more congested, expensive and dirtier than I remembered. I love London, but once upon a time I considered it on my list of cities I could live in and now, only if I was really rich. I would need to be really rich to live a comfortable, modest life in the heart of the city, or else like a lot of people I would have to move to the countryside, which is gorgeous, but, I am a city girl.

Back to London... We hop a bus without fare! And hope that no one will notice. We don't have the correct change and it is rush hour, and we cram in so tight that I can smell what everyone has eaten all day. Odors cling to clothes in the damp and for some reason the bus smells like urine. I will soon realize that the bus always smells like urine, probably because a few people on it fail to realize that it is actually a bus, and not a latrine. There is a very large, very young girl who keeps staring at me and my suitcase and being the friendly that I am, I smile at her and genuinely expect a smile back. However all I hear are mutterings of how "that woman won't stop staring at me," and I quickly focus on one of the many unfriendly faces that are still on the bus and staring at my suitcase. Later I will learn that it is in part due to the neighborhood that I am in. It's a little bit rough around the edges in the way that any big city can be, changing from block to block. Thankfully we hop off and make our way to meet Anya at a lovely coffee shop where we have a brief catch up and head back to her flat to meet up with her later for a dinner that Eric is cooking.

Their flat is great. Small, neat, new and well..cold. But this is the way it was everywhere we went in England. Even with the heat on full Eric warns me, one is always cold. It's the damp, and the fact that the houses weren't really built for central heat or properly insulated. Everyone walks around with a "lurgy" cough and is freezing but doesn't expect to be anything else during the winter. This kind of denial of one's actual climate has always made me crazy. It's like living through summer in L.A. without air conditioning, because no one is willing to admit that it gets unbearably hot and that summer lasts not for two but five months of the year!

Back at the flat we collapse into small heaps while Eric uncorks several bottles of wine for us and cooks us a feast. We eat smoked fish, broccoli with chili's, salad with pomegranate, and cheese and bread and chocolate! We stay up talking for hours and it is great to hear similar tales of adjusting to life in a new city, in a new country, and in a new culture. They have been in London as long as we have been in L.A. and the mutual trials and tribulations are comforting. It is wonderful to see them. We have missed them. And that night we fall asleep tipsy and full and huddled under every blanket they have, with the heat turned on high and the sounds of cars splashing in rain outside the window.

12/24/08

Back in the U.S.A...Christmas Eve...



We are back from two weeks in Europe and there is so much that I want to write about! We were in London, Oxford, South Moor, and Paris...oh Paris!!! I kept a little notepad of all that we saw and did and my brain, when it was finally over its jet lag, started to have all these great ideas for new writing/filming projects. How could it not? I was surrounded by such history and beauty and culture, starting every morning talking about writing with my cousin and ending every evening with a show, or a symphony or a great night out at a pub. And that was just England. In Paris we stayed in the Latin Quarter across the street from where Hemingway lived and wrote, along with James Joyce and Orson Wells and a host of other wonderful literary heroes.

But now I am back and after being up for twenty five hours straight yesterday...I am tired once more. Go figure. So let me just post a few pics of Jeff and I on our first day on the bridge over the river Thames and soon, I will post great pics and great stories of our travels.

Happy Holidays!!

12/15/08

10 Days to Christmas...7 Days to Hannukah...

I am writing this from the countryside of England where I am visiting family. I had a lovely time in London with my cousins and am having a wonderful time in Oxford with in-laws and in a few days I will be in Paris!! Magnifique!!

I will not be blogging much, as there will be so many things to do and see and eat...and my laptop has decided to sleep a long sleep...but I wanted to check in and say hello and remind everyone that the holidays are just around the corner and I urge you to seriously consider making a donation to Playground, a film that exposes, and aims to end the child sex trade in North America.

My previous post has all the info...and it really is a great gift to give someone and remember no donation is too small.

Thanks to all my friends who have already donated and become fellow "film makers"!!

12/8/08

Playground...A great holiday gift!!!


This holiday give a child their childhood back.

Give a “filmmaker” credit to someone you love and help put an end to child sex trafficking in North America, a 3 billion dollar a year industry.

Your donation helps to complete the 5 year journey of the first ever feature length documentary about the child sex trade in North America. Telling stories of children from British Columbia all the way to Atlanta Georgia.

No child anywhere should be for sale.


PLAYGROUND
23 cities. 250 interviews. 300,000 children.

The goal: $350,000.00 to finish the film.


The deadline: January 1st.


The reward: Ending the child sex trade.


Each “filmmaker” will be credited on the website and donors are eligible to win a trip to the film premiere.

Click to go to Playground’s website, and see what Zoe Trodd of Harvard University calls “…the best film I’ve seen on the abuse and exploitation of children.”

12/6/08

Saturday Shout out for...Caroline Leavitt!!!


Today's shout out goes to the fabulously talented and unbelievably generous author Caroline Leavitt.

Full disclosure: This shout out is completely biased. I adore Caroline. She was my writing teacher at UCLA for a year and a half and I credit her with giving me the courage to call myself a writer and actually finish my debut novel. Caroline did the story edit for my novel "Navel Gazing" and gave me the confidence to approach agents, all of whom have had nothing but high praise for the skill and craftsmanship of my work, skill that I acquired thanks to Caroline's relentless insistence for excellence. She is what every writer hopes for but can not believe exists, an artist, who cares about new writers and the struggles they go through, and has the generosity of spirit to share, guide, and dialogue with writers about their writing and the writing process. And to top it all off she is immensely talented.

When I first read Caroline's essay "High Infedility" I was gobsmacked. Never had I read such powerful and economical prose that cut to the heart of the matter and rendered me speechless. It's no wonder that at the reading of this essay in NYC, producers clamored to her, begging for the rights to the screenplay which she is putting the finishing touches on. Reading Caroline's work for the first time was like one of those moments I have had as an actor when I discovered the work of some ridiculously talented, yet not as widely known artist, such as the Katherine Keeners, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Clive Owen, Mary Louise Parker's of the world, those unbelievably gifted folk who rock every production that they are in and leave you wondering...why haven't I heard of this person before? Why aren't they a household name yet?

Well, for actors they say that an overnight sensation takes 10 years...maybe for authors it's 10 books. I don't know, but Caroline's 9th book "Breathe" will be published by Algonquin press in the new year, and until then you can read her sensational hit "Girls in Trouble" about the emotional mine field that is open adoption. If you haven't already, discover her now, and then pretty soon, like those indie actors who finally get the mainstream recognition, mega publicity and movie deals, you can say..."Oh Caroline Leavitt, sure, I've loved her since..."

To learn more about this brilliant writer and her fabulous accomplishments check out her website at www.carolineleavitt.com or her amazing blog at, www.carolineleavittville.blogspot.com

Happy reading.

12/4/08

Just doing it...

I am terrible at the waiting game. I have said it before and I will say it again. Terrible. Last night as I was reviewing my lists, I was reminded that my manuscript was still being reviewed by an agent that I am really hoping will represent my debut novel. As if I could forget. Things move slow in the publishing world. It isn't like Hollywood, where I can audition, get called back the same day, get put on avail (hold) the next day and shoot, two days later. The turn around in publishing isn't measured in days. It's measured in weeks, as in, 6-8, 10- 12, 24 etc. Let's face it, when you get that many weeks together, why not just call it what it is...months.

Waiting can be crippling. I tend to wait to know about one thing before moving on to the next. But the reality is that a lot of time can pass this way, and it is best to just keep doing it. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep at it, whatever the "it" is that day, or week, or month. And so I stayed up late last night and today have been back at it.

I think the kicker was when I ran into a screenwriter on my walk this morning and I asked him how he got started...did he study one particular method? Did he love one particular teacher? Was there one particular book that he read?

His answers: He was a poli sci major, he never studied, he read every screenwriting book...but actually his best piece of advice? Just read screenplays...and then write one. Just write one. Don't wait. Just do it.

It struck a note with this worrier, planner, uber student...and I wish him all the luck for his big studio meeting next week!

12/2/08

CSI Miami...

Today, I was an actor...all day long. I got to film an episode of CSI Miami and everyone was great. Really and truly great. The series regulars were friendly and generous, the hair and make-up people were wonderful, the entire crew was jocular and welcoming, and it seemed everyone was happy to be there. And so was I. I didn't step out for lighting or rush back to my trailer between takes...I just wanted to stay on set, present for every moment and soak it up. It's a great epsiode,
full of suspense and it was written by a really nice woman about my age. And to top it all off the director of the episode, was also a director and exec producer of one of my all time favorite shows...The Wire. Let's just say it was pretty great to work on such a well oiled machine and I am so happy that I got the chance to do so.

12/1/08

Tick Tock...

Does anyone else feel the marching, no, the racing of time as we head towards the end of the year?

I can not believe that we are already in December, and as always I am thinking, no, wait, there is still so much to do before the year is out!!

The time frame for this years list of things to get done before the year is out is especially challenging because well...we are taking off in just 9 Days for Europe.

We are off to visit dear family and friends in England for 6 days, and then just the two of us will celebrate our 14th year anniversary...in Paris.

It has been forever since I was last in London, and I have never been to Paris!! Friends tell me that it will be especially beautiful now all lit up with twinkly lights for the holidays. One of my friends gave me a 9 page list of things to do, see, and eat!

I can not wait!! My computer keeps me telling me that my "start up disk is almost full," and that's kind of how my brain feels too. But in just 9 more days, I will unplug, unwind, and take in new sights and smells, tastes and tales and the wondrous experiences that await me in two magnificent cities.

Better get moving, time is a ticking!
 
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